Monday, August 15, 2016

Obama’s environmental legacy: Some 24 national monuments

The race is on to win President Barack Obama’s attention as he puts some final touches on his environmental legacy. Conservation groups, American Indian tribes and federal lawmakers are urging his administration to preserve millions of acres as national monuments. Such a designation often prevents new drilling and mining on public lands, or the construction of new roads and utility lines. The flurry of activity is creating enthusiasm — and tensions — in several parts of the country. Efforts are underway in Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Maine and elsewhere to get Obama to designate new national monuments. Proponents aren’t just focused on land. They’re also looking to greater protections for vast swaths of ocean bottom off the coasts of New England, California and Hawaii. Obama has created or expanded 24 national monuments — including Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument during his seven-and-a-half-year tenure, the most of any president. Almost nobody thinks he’s done yet. Environmental groups are urging him to go big as he leaves office. “What he’s done in terms of protection has been good, but what he does next is how we measure whether his legacy is great or not,” said Sharon Buccino of the Natural Resources Defense Council...more

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